The Old Trafford dugout is still warm and already David Moyes has a huge decision to make. If Sir Alex's heir apparent needed reminding just how tough a job he's inherited the confirmation of Wayne Rooney's transfer request on a day of celebration will have been just the ticket...
By Matt Stanger
Last Updated: 15/05/13 5:53am
In a week of seismic events at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney's latest request to leave Manchester United has barely caused a stir alongside the news of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement and David Moyes' appointment as the manager's successor.
It would seem that following his original transfer request in 2010 and a difficult season on a personal level, Rooney's recent unhappiness has come as no surprise to United supporters. A future without Rooney is of relatively little concern compared to the unknown in which United now proceed without Ferguson and, for the moment at least, the forward is no longer the club's priority.
In truth, it has been that way for much of the season with Robin van Persie cementing himself as United's most important player with 25 goals so far in their successful pursuit of the Premier League title. There is a certain irony to Rooney expressing doubts over the club's ambition in 2010, only to grow frustrated at becoming increasingly marginalised by Van Persie this year. "How wrong was I?" asked Rooney after United romped to the title in 2011 and, two years down the line, the 27-year-old is again left to reflect on his serious lack of judgement.
It may be a relief to Ferguson that he no longer has to deal with Rooney's unrest and the manager made his position perfectly clear when he dropped the striker for United's crucial Champions League clash at home to Real Madrid. Rooney is no longer one of the first names on Ferguson's teamsheet; he always 'needs a game' to reach optimum fitness and, considering his reported £200,000-a-week contract, United can probably find better value elsewhere.
These considerations leave David Moyes with a big decision to make in the summer. The new United manager is not alien to conflict with Rooney - given the pair's legal dispute that dragged on for almost two years - but after eventually coming to an amicable agreement in that matter, Moyes is presumably looking forward to working with Rooney again at Old Trafford.
However, news of Rooney's transfer request has put Moyes in an unenviable predicament. He can either try and convince the striker to stay with his plans to continue United's success, flatly refuse to let him leave despite Rooney soon entering the last two years of his contract, or entertain the idea of a sale at the beginning of a new era for both the manager and United.
Indeed, it would be a significant power play for Moyes to allow Rooney to leave, immediately underlining that no player is bigger than the club and perhaps endearing himself to fans in the process. It's quite incredible that a United player would ask to leave twice inside three years and Moyes could save himself a huge amount of hassle further down the line by helping Rooney on his way.
It's likely that Moyes will wait to judge the feeling towards Rooney in the United dressing room before making his decision. The striker was criticised for being a disruptive influence by Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic following his last transfer request and the experienced players at Old Trafford will probably react angrily to more evidence of Rooney's selfishness.
A further thought on Moyes' mind is that he won't want to sell Rooney to a Premier League rival, with Chelsea reportedly considering making a bid. That concern would be mitigated by United plotting their own move for a new striker, however, with Falcao a rumoured target for the club.
It would require a great deal of conviction for Moyes to arrive at United and immediately pave the way for Rooney's exit, but ahead of the biggest season in the manager's career, he has the chance to show everyone that he's now the boss at Old Trafford.
This article first appeared on Football365